Bury Drop In supports Council in providing essential items and food to the  vulnerable  during housing crisis

A housing shortage and increased demand means that West Suffolk Council is providing temporary homes for up to six months to try to prevent people ending back on the streets and at further risk of Covid19.

Prior to the pandemic, the Council had, through support and accommodation, reduced the number of people rough sleeping down from 36 to eight.

West Suffolk Council has worked hard to fulfil the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ policy, ensuring people who were rough sleeping or in shared sleeping accommodation were provided with self-contained accommodation thus reducing the risk of COVID 19 infection. This led to an unprecedented demand for temporary and emergency housing for people in need of support.

It currently has 149 households in temporary or emergency accommodation including 30 families and 105 single people or couples, plus 14 rough sleeper beds. This compares to 83 households in June 2019.

It has managed, as have other councils, by making use of hotels as well as B&Bs. But many of these hotels are now beginning to start operating as commercial businesses which means the rooms will no longer be available to the Council to use as temporary or emergency accommodation.

Alongside all of this is, the Council anticipates more people could become homeless when the moratorium on evictions ends in August, while furlough pay reducing from July and ending in October, may also see more people struggling to pay their rent or mortgages.

There is a particular shortage of affordable housing for single people.

Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, West Suffolk Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “In the longer term, the support of registered housing providers, more house building and more partnership working with private landlords will all be required to help meet the demand for homes.

“Our immediate need, and following recent Government announcements, is to ensure that we have homes available now. While we recognise that they are not ideal, these 15 temporary homes we are providing, offer a more immediate option.

“We have decided to locate these on Council owed land which already has the water and electric supply in place for immediate use. We will have staff on site providing support as needed. I must stress that this is a temporary measure in place for six months and we are happy to discuss other options with landlords or landowners who contact us. I’d also like to thank both Gatehouse and Bury Drop In who will help to provide food and other essentials and for the continuing support that these two charities offer some of our most vulnerable residents. I would also like to express my thanks to the hotels and bed and breakfasts businesses that have provided invaluable support to the Council during the Covid crisis and we look forward to continuing to work with many of them”

The Council will still use other forms of accommodation such as a reduced availability of hotels. It will also use bed and breakfasts, and homes across West Suffolk. It will use the six-month period to look for other housing options to help people.

Landlords and homeowners with empty properties are asked to contact the council which can offer not only rent guarantees, but will also provide landlords with a package of support throughout the tenancy – email landlords@westsuffolk.gov.uk

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